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Rundle: Brooks sheds the devil’s mark, does Australia beckon?

Andy Coulson has been found guilty of phone hacking, but redhead editrix Rebekah Brooks has got off scott-free. Where will she be heading next? Crikey’s writer-at-large speculates she could be Australia-bound.

The redhead striding out of court in that weird Puritan costume of hers … who is she meant to be? Joan of Arc? Pocahontas? God knows. She said nothing, stepped into a waiting car. In court she’d sobbed when the verdict was read out. Rebekah Brooks, not guilty on all counts, conspiracy in phone hacking, perverting the course of justice … Her PA and security honcho were also off the hook. Less lucky was Andy Coulson, her former underling, lover, lover underling, tabloid editor and adviser to David Cameron, guilty of conspiracy in phone hacking. He reportedly sighed when the verdict was read out.

Yes, the verdicts of the hacking trial have come out, with most of the accused — Brooks’ shire’s-idiot husband, Charlie Brooks, as well — slipping the noose. The verdict was unanimous by the 11-person jury, although a majority verdict would have swung it as well. To say it was a surprise would be an understatement — for nearly eight months the trial had unfolded a process of systemic illegal phone hacking over years at the “red top” Murdoch tabloids, The Sun and the News of the World, had shown how it was embedded deep in the daily process of the papers, both of which Brooks had edited during the period. Added to it was a comical, farcical process when the Brookses, and staff, given courteous warning of a raid by the plod they’d been paying off for years, appeared to ditch a whole lot of office files, as well as Charlie’s mobile porn stash and unfinished novel.

The shock echoed round the world. I saw it in on CNN in a hotel bar in Jakarta, half a mile above the smoke haze. The bartender switched channels, but it was on the Beeb, France 24, even Russia Today. The Australia Network had Mother and Son. His Rupertness maintained a Twitter silence, staff-imposed perhaps (“Cheese! What’s that for?”), but he didn’t need to say much. Everyone kinda thinks he got away with running a scoop-dependent celeb stalker organisation by squandering the “wiggle room” that journos are accorded in the pursuit — and thus making it harder to use such techniques when warranted. Convictions in London would have made an FBI investigation of News America not merely more likely, but obligatory. They’re still possible — they may be underway via sealed grand juries — but the sense of crisis slipped back a little.

The verdicts prompted howls of outrage from those who’d be following, and comparisons to the travesty heaped on Peter Greste and colleagues in Egypt — but one would want to be a little circumspect about that. Greste and Co. were convicted on no evidence at all of a non-crime. The hackgate trial drowned in information, narrative and gossip, but the charges themselves related to quite specific hacking incidents, and proving them might have proved difficult. It’s easy to second-guess a jury, but they’ve spent eight months across it all — and they looked like a pretty conscientious bunch when I popped in on the trial, several taking copious notes, only a couple of possible nongs. We’ll know more if some of them start to speak up in the next few weeks.

Brooks swept out, husband in tow, while Coulson stayed behind, still waiting on verdicts on a couple of remaining charges. That’s how it will be from now on. Brooks goes back to the life, Coulson to appeal, prison if that fails, and a perjury trial in Scotland, arising from these convictions. PM David Cameron, who hired him off Murdoch, sent out a statement saying that it was a mistake to have hired him in the first place. Coulson doesn’t have a lot of juice — he’s a speccy showbiz reporter who became a red-top editor when the papers finally became one big celeb sheet. There was speculation that Brooks’ tears and near collapse were due to Coulson taking the bullet, and Brooks’ guilt thereat. If it was, it’ll pass. With a bit of luck Rupe will send her south, so to speak, so she can run things Down Under. That’d be a fun 10 months.

The British papers had a field day with the news …

Never mind — in the hours after, she garnered hero tweets from Jeremy Clarkson, Piers Morgan and Louise Mensch, nee Bagshawe. Can Tony Blair be far behind? My god, what an awful bunch of people. Even the crowd in the bar seemed to think that, and most of them were organ traffickers. Hester Prynne, free of the devil’s mark — yeah, I know it’s tenuous, but that’s what she looked like, goddamnit — striding into the golden future. So they hope. So they all hope.

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  • 1
    DiddyWrote
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Brooks openly admitted to paying policemen and women in return for information. She made this brazen statement whilst being recorded in front of a parliamentary committee. How could the prosecution fail to nail her on that charge at least.

    It’s been messy for News but it appears they did enough to avoid the damage getting as far as the Murdoch clan. So it’s back to business as usual with our politicians, police and judiciary all firmly in Rupert’s pocket.

  • 2
    Andybob
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful insulator she makes. There must be a place for her elsewhere in Rupertworld.

  • 3
    zut alors
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    My god, what an awful bunch of people. Even the crowd in the bar seemed to think that, and most of them were organ traffickers.’

    Thanks, Guy. There’s not much to give us a laugh here in Queensland so that wonderful nugget has come to the rescue.

    Brooks heading south? Surely a surfeit of dodgy characters & crims has already been shipped to The Colonies. Give us a break.

  • 4
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    I know nuthink!”?
    So, why not send her here to run “Murdoch World” - she’d double their present aggregated IQ? She could get a job like Arfur Sinodinos - opening doors?
    With that $25 million (Australian) pay-out - to be as thick as a two planks?

  • 5
    Dogs breakfast
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    How can that be!

    Maybe we are in no position to judge. Certainly a lot of the Obeid family seem to have not the slightest worry about being prosecuted for corruption.

    Up is down, black is white, night is day and I’m ok.

  • 6
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    …?…” & “… ! …”, with a side of order of WTF!

  • 7
    Red Bob
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    The sooner they make “being a fcuk wit” a crime, the better.

  • 8
    CML
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Sounds like an awful lot of money changed hands to get that kind of verdict. How can you be innocent of a crime you have already confessed to (see @ DiddyWrote #1 above)?
    Maybe someone should start investigating the jury! Unless there were more than the “couple of possible nongs”, Guy?
    Bloody outrageous!!

  • 9
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    but… but… then the majority of MP’s would be guilty.

  • 10
    katas
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Strange that such well paid person as Ms Brooks,in her position was so ignorant of huge amounts of money being paid for information and the actual stories published under her watch. Perhaps she is not as sharp as she and her employer think. A world minus the Murdochs,Packers,Singletons and their righteous know all cronies would be a far ,far better place

  • 11
    malcolm
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Please, please, please Rupert don’t send Ms Brookes here we have enough crooks at the big end of town already. But then you are in that crowd aren’t you

  • 12
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 7:27 pm | Permalink

    Me and my dog could be as dumb as her, and for only a 7 million UK quid pay-out - would Rupert give us the same job?
    Though I must admit, I’m not too com fortable with some of those other “conditions”?

  • 13
    zut alors
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    Klewso, Brooks evidently has skills which go unnoticed by the public but which are valued & much appreciated by Murdoch Snr.

  • 14
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    re the skills of the Flame Haired One, Medea or Medusa?

  • 15
    klewso
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

    Cleared on criminal standard of proof - whereby a jury has decided she “hasn’t done it on the basis of something like 85-90% certainty being required.”
    If it had gone to civil action (where more evidence would have come out more often) a judge or jury would rule on probability - of more likely than not - more than 50% likely? That could have been even more embarrassing and could have led to a different verdict?
    Any wonder Murdoch and his News Corpse was so happy to settle all those out of court?

    Hester Prynne? What about “Goody Williams” (The Crucible)?

  • 16
    fractious
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    @ AR - Medea, starring Andy Coulson as Jason.

    If the latter, we’re not shot of her yet.

  • 17
    fractious
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    @ klewso - your mention of the differing standards of proof in civil proceedings is an entertaining thought; however, who would have brought them?

  • 18
    fractious
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Rundle:

    …it was on the Beeb, France 24, even Russia Today. The Australia Network had Mother and Son.

    Thanks, that’s both laugh-out-loud and “ohhh ferchrissakes”

  • 19
    AR
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    What I wouldn’t give for Wendi as Clytemnestra with Ms Dowler as Iphigenia. Jeez, all of a sudden I see so many parallels.

  • 20
    Euan J Thomas
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    Oh dear what a pity they didn’t get Uncle Rupert as well. But there is still time and hope. Great piece Guy and I did laugh out loud about the organ donor trafficers.

  • 21
    Ken Lambert
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Ahhhh Guy ..now you know why they used to burn witches

  • 22
    Ken Lambert
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Burning witches…now there is a dangerous idea…

  • 23
    Graham R
    Posted Wednesday, 25 June 2014 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    I simply cannot understand how Coulsen can be guilty and Brooks not. I hope the Prosecution appeals this nonsense.

  • 24
    Boston the Dog
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 8:31 am | Permalink

    Could Teflon Rebekah become the next Qantas CEO?

  • 25
    Liamj
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    British justice has always favoured the powerful, the real significance of this verdict is that News Corpse is now officially more powerful than the politicans & royals (& of course the celebs & commoners) that it fed upon.

  • 26
    Liamj
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    *edit: ‘..feeds upon’, not ‘fed upon’, because its not like Murdochs bullies have stopped their predation.

  • 27
    David Russell
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Guy, I would be classified as a right-wing reactionary by many of your readers, I’m sure. But the demeaning and derogatory comments you made about Rebekah Brooks were beyond the pale. What she was wearing has nothing to do with the substantive issues at stake. Bear in mind that the Crikey team berates The Oz for its attacks on Clive Palmer’s portliness and it’s a fair call. Go hard on the politics by all means but don’t play the woman instead of the issues, especially with a myisoginystic tone as you used.

  • 28
    Dez Paul
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Seems like its time for another read of “Still Life With Woodpecker”. That at least is less surreal than British Justice.

    Ripper read, Guy. Thanks.

  • 29
    David Coady
    Posted Thursday, 26 June 2014 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    She dresses like the high priestess of a cult, which is exactly what she is. Apparently her defence team was led by David Cameron’s brother. The ruling class closes ranks.

  • 30
    klewso
    Posted Monday, 30 June 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Zut, all that investor capital interred with News Corpse - poured into the void that was Brooks, Coulson wasn’t the only “Murdoch Mole”?

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